By Adam Baum, firstname.lastname@example.org
GREEN TWP. - Life can change in an instant. Something as simple as a phone call can create a new path, where dreams can come true.
That's what happened Jan. 9 when the phone rang for Oak Hills High School senior Jared Cox. The call carried news that Cox, a standout swimmer, had been accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy.
"I'll be honest," said Cox. "I walked into the room, at first, and I thought I was in trouble. It was my counselor's office. I see two principals, my counselor and then Katie (Hunter), my swim coach in the corner. I thought, 'Oh man, this probably isn't good.' Then Mr. Meibers started telling funny stories from his childhood and I was like, 'Alright, I'm not in trouble.'
"I really wasn't expecting the call. I thought I recognized Congressman Chabot's voice and he told me I was accepted. It was crazy."
Cox has also been accepted by the U.S. Military Academy, in addition to a number of other schools that wanted him to swim. But, he wants to serve his country, so his choice is between the Naval Academy and West Point.
"I've always wanted to join the military because my father (Rick) was in the (Army) so he would tell us stories as kids," said Jared. "I never knew what I wanted to do until maybe late freshman year or so. My father brought it up and thought a service academy would be a good match so I started researching into it and I thought they were great. I thought, 'This is where I wanna go; this is what I wanna do.'"
Hunter has coached Oak Hills for 10 years. The last couple, though, she's watched Cox put everything into he has into the pool and into accomplishing a goal. So, it seemed right that she was in the room, recording Jared's phone call with Rep. Chabot.
The emotions of that moment returned to Hunter when asked what it was like to watch his dream come true.
"That's how I was in there (crying) - 'Hold it together. Hold it together,'" she laughed. "I mean he's been working towards this for a couple years. This has been his No. 1 goal so just to see that come and see the reaction on his face. It made me tear up. He was hugging everybody after. It's nice to be a little part of that."
In the video, there's a permanent smile stuck on Jared's face. One that's easy to rub off on the person watching it, especially his mom and dad.
"He was so proud," said Jared. "It was great. It's something he's helped me with, so I think it was good for him. Both my parents, they were so happy ... mostly because they might not have to pay for college now. But also cause it's a great education and guaranteed employment upon graduation, so I won't be moving back in."
Cox still has some unfinished business before the next chapter of his life. After reaching state last season in two events - 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly - he's aiming for another swim in the cold waters of Canton. The hope is that he'll have some company this season, possibly from a relay team.
"I'm really excited," Jared said. "I think there's big things ahead for this team."
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